With one of the most popular frameworks, React.js development teams have won a reputation for creating interactive, rich, and robust user interfaces. Over the past seven years since its inception, React has gone from strength to strength, creating user interfaces for some of the world’s most widely used applications.
Like any powerful tool, React has strengths and weaknesses which make it ideally suited to some projects and poorly optimised for others. Understanding how these features interact and where the framework shines is critical to assessing the technology as a potential solution for your projects and teams. Be sure to check out our article on the difference between AngularJS and ReactJS for more details on the language.
Here, we evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of React with a view towards assessing its potential role in your projects and teams. Should you need more help defining the best tool for your project, finding the right development team can guide you in the right path - remember, if you need help selecting the right company, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.
Facebook first launched React in May 2013. At the time, Jordan Walke unveiled the technology to a skeptical audience. It’s only over time and hard-won experience that has turned critics into advocates.
React applications don’t suffer from the same penalties. Because React’s virtual DOM takes care of rendering and returning the result to the browser, React applications are indexed more easily by search engines and are, as a result, more reachable for users
Reinventing the wheel, often over and over again, costs vast amounts of money and time. React is designed to make reusing code already written, tested, and deployed by other developers as easy and as painless as possible. The savings in monetary costs and rapid time-to-market can be huge.
ReactJS uses encapsulated components. These components, designed to manage their own state, split the UI into independent and reusable pieces which can make complex UIs when combined. The number of components already freely available and currently out there are seemingly endless. The opportunity to build effective services with them is too.
The major selling point of React is the virtual DOM. The Document Object Model (DOM) is an application programming interface representing XML as a tree structure with nodes representing a part of the document. The inefficiencies of this model accumulate quickly as the CSS files and layouts have to be reassessed with every small change.
In React, this lack of effectiveness is overcome by publishing changes to a virtual DOM and updating the “real” DOM with only the necessary modifications. This boost in efficiency alone makes React a powerful tool in gaining performance advantages which improve usability by some leaps and bounds.
React’s modular design makes it easier to scale than many other platforms. Simply adding components, replacing old ones with more robust versions, and making application changes piecemeal rather than wholesale makes ramping up an application to meet demands and improvements more straightforward and safer too.
Scaling up from a rapidly prototyped MVP into a full-scale production application is more possible as a result of the feature set and design.
There is a large and thriving community of users and developers based around React. This is, in large part, due to the framework’s open-source library. React today is one of the most popular frameworks on Github, having been forked more than 20,000 times since its creation. Bug fixes, feature requests, and ideas are consistently coming in from around the world on the highly active project.
On the other side of the coin, Facebook, who have invested heavily in their framework, are still highly active in building and maintaining it. Their vast resource and continued interest in the project ensure there is a lot of longevity left in its lifecycle.
It’s easy to find and hire React developers
A part of the framework's large and diverse community is the number of developers working on technologies using React. This number is a consistently high year on year with no sign of slowing down soon. With results like these, finding a developer with a solid foundation in React development shouldn’t be a challenge (we even have a whole article devoted to Hiring React.JS Developers!)
However, if you need help selecting the right talent, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.
In addition to the revolutionary features driving React’s popularity, like any solution or technology, it has its drawbacks and disadvantages too. For some, these will be minor inconveniences to work around. For others, these issues may be show-stopping blockers that merit finding an alternate approach.
Constantly Shifting Tools
Partly due to its immense popularity and rapid state of development, ReactJS often feels like it’s in a state of flux to developers. New features are introduced on a regular basis, while old ones become rapidly depreciated over time.
For some, this rapid change means an uncomfortably high pace of development and the requirement to stay on top of constant changes and new ways of thinking. There are undoubtedly many use cases where developers and project managers would prefer a more mature framework and more stable technology base instead.
Lack of Convention
Because of React’s relative youth, there are few well-established conventions when it comes to developing within the framework. The few that do exist come directly from Facebook, which are consistently updating and developing the framework to meet the demands of their in-house teams.
We can expect things to improve in this regard as time goes on and the framework matures.
Steep Learning Curve
Despite being relatively young, React JS is an extensive library with a great many things for users to dive into and learn. Regrettably, documentation is not one of the technologies' stronger fronts. While there are a large number of online resources covering a great many things, the amount of authoritative information published alongside the libraries leaves a lot to be desired.
Newer libraries such as Redux appear to suffer from this issue even more than most. One of the stumbling blocks for many developers looking to hone their skills on React is the lack of good documentation for its many, many available libraries.
The reasons that React climbed to become as highly popular as it has are plentiful and strong, but it’s important too not to blindly follow the crowd. Weighing up the pros and cons of ReactJS development is essential to evaluating when and how it will be deployed in your organisation.
Performance advantages, rapid development time, and SEO improvements have to be balanced against the rapid pace of development and documentation challenges inherent in a relatively young framework.
A powerful tool with major reach, it’s worth considering whether React.JS is the technology you want to use to deploy your next service. Be sure to tune in next time for our article on The Do's & Don'ts of Managing an Outsourced React.JS Development Team!
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